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How NewsCred Powers the Sales Process through Content Creation: Tips from Heather Eng

By Kathryn Hawkins. Interviews
Image Credit: Ramon Ho. Licensed under CC0.

We spoke with managing editor, Heather Eng, about how the content marketing solution NewsCred’s own content marketing strategy helps power its lead nurturing path for enterprise clients.

NewsCred is one of the leading content marketing software solutions for the enterprise -- and the company practices what it preaches, serving thoughtful, immersive content aimed at its target audiences. Heather Eng, NewsCred’s managing editor, recently published a detailed breakdown of NewsCred’s own content strategy for attracting clients, laying out exactly how NewsCred was able to create a strong marketing pipeline through content marketing: According to their metrics, 100% of NewsCred revenue was influenced by content marketing, and 40% is directly attributable to content marketing.

(Disclaimer: Eucalypt is a NewsCred partner agency, but we’ve been fans of their work since long before beginning our working relationship.)

How can your organization demonstrate similar stellar results through your content marketing strategy? Here’s what’s worked for NewsCred:

Focus on building longform, substantial content over short “fluff”

Much like the VC firm First Round Review, whose strategy we’ve featured here previously, NewsCred focuses heavily on quality over quantity. Rather than aiming to pump out 10 pieces of content each day, NewsCred instead produces just a few thoughtful, longform articles each week that share real knowledge with their target reader -- an enterprise content marketer.

For NewsCred, this means focusing on in-depth, graphically-illustrated guides, such as their recent “Social Selling 2017,” which lays out a step-by-step process for using social media to convert more leads. It also means diving deep on industry trends, such as the recent feature on how fashion brands are using content marketing. They also supplement original content with syndicated articles that would appeal to their target audience, from publications such as AdAge, and publish a weekly content marketing roundup.

“This strategy has been both an evolution of the editorial and the content marketing spaces in general, and also with people’s visual habits and what they’re looking for,” says Eng.

“We’re really making sure that we’re building a strong relationship with our readers, and they know that every time they get an email from us – or any time they see a social media post – they’re going to get something that really gives them value and answers their questions and doesn’t just hint at it and leave them wanting more.”

We’re really making sure that we’re building a strong relationship with our readers, and they know that every time they get an email from us – or any time they see a social media post – they’re going to get something that really gives them value and answers their questions and doesn’t just hint at it and leave them wanting more.

—Heather Eng, managing editor at Newscred

Always ask, “Is this content providing genuine value to our reader?” If it’s not, kill it.

The concept that content must deliver value is written so strongly into NewsCred’s credo that the company uses a scorecard to evaluate each piece before it is published. If the content doesn’t meet the standard, it doesn’t make the cut for publication. (See the scorecard here.)

The scorecard, says Eng, “is built into our CMS, so I actually have to answer all of those questions before I publish it, so it really holds me accountable for it.”

“The main piece is the question asking, would I personally share this piece of content with the smartest marketing executive or my smartest marketing peer? And if the answer is ‘no’, I won’t publish it.”

Eng says that it was difficult to shift from the mentality that it’s essential to publish content on a regular cadence, as many marketers tend to live by a fixed editorial schedule. But by using the scorecard as a litmus test, she found that, while occasionally, content didn’t make the cut, the articles that did get published helped to elevate NewsCred’s brand, and increase its audience.

“It’s really been key to boosting our content, just getting out of that mindset that you have to publish every day, because I have seen our content quality improve and our metrics improve,” says Eng. “It did take some time, but it was definitely worth the investment and worth changing the mindset.”

Don’t use the content as an opportunity for self-promotion.

In many marketing organizations, the lines between content marketing and PR tend to get blurred -- but that’s not the case at NewsCred. While the company doesn’t stray from referencing itself, it’s done in the context of sharing its experiences in hopes that they can benefit readers, as in its annual case study that analyzes the company’s content strategy and metrics.

You’ll never see a hard sales push in the content itself: “It’s hard to shift that mindset among brands,” says Eng. They’ll often develop content that serves as a thinly-disguised advertisement for a product or service, but to be effective with content marketing, “it’s about building that trust and delivering that value and letting them know that they can trust you to deliver them information and advice and engagement at every interaction.”

Build an organic path to turn a prospect into a customer over the long term.

Along those lines, rather than including a blatant call to try out the product at the end of each story, NewsCred incorporates a much softer pull through its marketing funnel. Typically, says Eng, “the first stage is really attracting them and creating content that will bring them in through social media, or word of mouth, or events, or through other channels.”

Once they’re consuming articles on the site, NewsCred encourages readers to sign up for the weekly newsletter, using a pop-up button on the site: That pop-up is responsible for 70% of the company’s 100,00+ subscribers, says Eng. “That newsletter allows to really build a deeper relationship because we don’t do the type of process where we’ll send 3 email newsletters with stories and then every 4th one hit them up with a sell. It’s really just value all the time.”

That newsletter allows to really build a deeper relationship because we don’t do the type of process where we’ll send 3 email newsletters with stories and then every 4th one hit them up with a sell. It’s really just value all the time.

—Heather Eng, managing editor at Newscred

Along with links to recent blog posts, the newsletter includes a large graphic CTA to download a recent white paper or attend an upcoming webinar -- both of which are intended to deliver even more substantial value to the reader. To respond to these high-value content offers, the reader will provide more information, such as job title and company, that enables NewsCred to understand if the individual is a likely target for the company’s software solution, at which point the individual may finally be added to NewsCred’s database to begin receiving sales offers.

With this double opt-in process -- once for the newsletter, and again for a white paper or webinar -- the NewsCred team knows that anyone they reach out to at this point understands their brand and the value of content marketing. It’s not a quick process: On average, prospects consume 20 pieces of content from NewsCred before eventually becoming customers.

It takes time -- and high-quality content -- to establish trust in a brand. But once you’ve done it, you’ll find that those who do sign on with your company are likely to be with you for the long haul. They already understand your values, and know how your brand fits their needs, because they’ve consumed your content and internalized the lessons you’ve shared. By committing to content marketing as the backbone of your marketing strategy, you can build a sustainable plan for growth and build relationships that matter.

Learn more from my interview with Heather Eng at my blog on Inc.com, or sign up for our content marketing newsletter for more expert interviews and advice.

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Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than a decade.

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